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Daniel Pipes review of Gilles Kepel

Reader comment on item: Jihad: The Trail of Political Islam

Submitted by Antoine Rabinowitz (United States), Nov 14, 2005 at 13:17

Dear Mr. Pipes,

I am sorry to say that your review of Mr. Kepel's book, "Jihad: The Trail of Political Islam", was dissappointing... After carefully stating that the book is "376 pages of text with examples and arguments that credibly support(s the author's) idea" the only credible critique you offer is that M. Roy wrote a similarly themed work and that the "umma is the unit ruled by the laws of Islam (this is the body of all Muslims." The rest of your critique is dedicated to attacking Mr. Kepel with tasteless insults that reflect your methodology more than they opting for a smear campaign than in-depth analysis when one has insufficient knowledge of a given subject, not read a book, or lacks the intellectual breadth to deal with a given subject.

You state that Mr. Kepel "sees the entire decade of the 1980s "overshadowed by a power struggle between the Saudi monarchy and Khomeini's Iran" (forgetting a small episode called the Iran-Iraq war)..." Had you read anything by Mr. Kepel you would know that he was refering to the funding and support of radical islamic groups in the Middle East and the world for both ideological and direct control of these groups. The Iraq-Iran war was a "hot" war over territory while the struggle between the House of Saud and the Iranian Imams was a "cold" war over ideology (theology). The difference between the two is not what one would consider a subtle one. You also wrote: "he falsely attributes to the U.S. government the goal of supplying aid to the Afghans during the 1980s to precipitate the collapse of the Soviet Union (the goal was far more limited and defensive)" when it is an accepted fact that the US provided a tremendous amount of aid directly and indirectly through the aid of its proxy ally, Saudi Arabia. The House of Saud is implicated in both cases... .

You conclude that "he somehow fails to find any signs of active support in the Muslim world for Al-Qaeda's long-term objectives (to which one can only ask, where was he hiding out during September and October of 2001?)" Again, if you read the book or any of his work you would know that Mr. Kepel has analysed the support for radical islam throughly, socially and economically, and stated how that support has changed over time during the past 3 centuries (18th - 21st centuries)....
Submitting....

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